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TALES OF AN ORANGEPEELER

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05.02.05, monday morning

Follow the boy peddling by on a bike that clack-clack-clacks, price tag on the top of his As cap flapping in the breeze, past the mournful cypresses and rows of bottlebrush trees that appear as if in flames. Past golden poppies laughing in their soft grey beds; past the telenovela billboards towering above yards of yellow roses and cacti; past garage doors with wide diamonds for eyes; past taco trucks, Hot Boys Auto Detail, Puff n Stuff, the storefronts of palm readers, whose doors are always open; past streets lined with black iron gate fences in a car that's dusty, bird-shit blessed, and for luck: a cluster of Bad Boys Bail Bonds air fresheners dangling from the rearview mirror.

We merge on foot with a stream of history, which turns into a river of bodies, balloons, and tents where anyone can negotiate a mortgage or get a nickname airbrushed unto a trucker cap. Mexican flags are everywhere, flapping from car antennae, taped to the hoods of Buick Sevilles, tied around the heads of fathers and sons, or draped around young women who smile and flirt. The children are faster than us because they are small, they slip through the crowds like letters into envelopes, their hands sticky with mango slices or virgin daiquiris sipped through leggy straws.

We lose our friends; how can you not lose someone or something when you are hot and hungry and the sun is in your eyes? We migrate slowly to the sidewalk, to the shade, where we lean against an Escalade and skim headlines at the newsstands. GOVERNOR ENDORSES MINUTEMEN ON BORDER.

History is never, of course, without its violence. Gangsters crow and strut at an intersection after a brawl. Blue-bordered tears waterfall down the high cheekbone of a young man looking for a fight. But the whoridas, who only want to talk about cars, ignore them and old men breeze by, wearing Zapata or EZLN t-shirts, their hands clutching those of their daughters, hair braided a la Frida Kahlo or tucked under red fedoras or flying free.





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